Skip to main content

Homesite has good holding power for screws!  No problem there!  However it is very messy to cut!  Do it out side with a very tiny teeth Blade on your saw! It is a GOOD Sound Deadener, believe me !!! However on my last Layout ( 40’ X 50’ ) I used 1/2 inch FLEXXBED right over the top of 1/2 inch Plywood and got just as good sound deadening!!  I glued the FLEXXBED to the Plywood and screwed the Track to the FLEXXBED, making sure the screws were short enough not to go thru it and into the Plywood!  Just some suggestions!!!

Happy Railroading 

I put down 1"pink foam over the whole layout as I found my previous "right on the plywood" layout somewhat limiting.  It has proven to be very useful in any feature that requires "digging"... which comes up more often than you would think. 

I've leveraged the pink foam to add creeks/rivers/waterfalls, add a drainage ditch, add a lighted swimming pool... and even run wires to another point above the layout when they would interfere with something (i.e. main wiring buss and sub-layout roadway) if dropped straight down.  It's also handy for "planting" trees or people (if you use the pin method).  

I used pink and Blue 1" foam. Quiet, Cuts easy and holds scenery great. Trees I use an awl and insert tree. Bushes, grasses are either glued or chalked. Track definitely not a problem with screws. I just used short screws to go into the foam and NOT the benchwork. DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN SCREWS! Want to use something even quicker and easier ( which I converted to using), Carpet tape! Put track down. Outline with pencil, Remove track and install carpet tape between the lines (it is narrower than the track by about 1/2 inch and is double sided so I peel one side and then the other when ready to install track). BE CAREFUL if you have to pull up track. I use Atlas 21st Century and if not careful you will pull the rails off the ties. But I have removes more than my share with NO PROBLEMS! Another Plus was my wife wanted a creek and she just cut it in. She used a utility knife for some and  a Butane Burner for some other parts. Both worked great but be careful with the Butane Torch or you can take too much away. It Melts FAST. Easy to adjust depth and with of creek with either. If you do not go the full depth but leave at least an 1/8 inch you can pour your creek water in without having to worry about it leaking through benchwork  seams.

I built my first HOn3 layout using homosote. I used a sabersaw to cut it and the dust generated was incredible and got into everything including my lungs. To this day I have respiratory ailments that I attribute to homosote. It didn't cause me cancer or anything--I'm not saying that. It just made me miserable. 

My current layout is all 1 or 2 inch styrofoam laid on 3/8 inch ply (glued with liquid nails). I use 2 inch foam cut to fit to support track underlayment which is thin luan plywood (instead of using 1x2 wood or similar. I glue complex scenery supports using very small amounts of gorilla glue and I weight the thing down overnight (since Gorilla glue expands). 

Once you see a hot wire foam factory go through a piece of foam in 6 seconds--with no dust and no waste and total accuracy--you'll never go back to lumber and a saber saw. Really.

Good luck.



FWIW, when you're cutting the Homasote, it's much less messy if you follow along closely with a shop vacuum.  Cutting my top layer really didn't generate much external dust, but we did get a lot of it in the shop vac.

You can actually cut Homasote with a utility knife (use a sharp blade), and generate next to no dust, this works for straight runs.

With all  the curves on my benchwork, it was mandatory to route the edge of the Homasote to the contours before the final Fascia went on, that was done with a router and the ever present shop vac.


For all the cutting of the Homasote, there was very little clean-up needed, I'd say 95% of the dust ended up in the vacuum.

The finish sanding before putting the top fascia piece on, again the vacuum sucked up a vast majority of the dust.


Images (4)
  • mceclip0
  • mceclip1
  • mceclip3
  • mceclip4

I used 1/2 Homosote over 7/16 OSB it works great easy to fill gaps with paintable caulking if and where needed GRJ is correct with his point about cutting and the use of a good shop vac. It holds screws much better than the foam panels and I also just use an awl for planting trees and other scenery items and for streams and stuff like that just curve with a sharp knife.   

30+ years ago when i built my railroad without the benefit of the info provided by this forum and the internet, i stumbled on a product called Homabed.  I used it on whatever wood for benchwork was beneath it. For large flat areas like yards and hidden turning loops I used sheets of Homasote. After laying it down i painted it with gray latex paint, followed by trackwork and ballasting. It is in a basement here in the northeast and has served me well.P1010449


Images (1)
  • P1010449
@Hot Water posted:

We didn't put ANYTHING on top of the plywood. We used VinylBed "flexxbed", under the track (3/8"  for the main lines and 1/4" for sidings & yard tracks). The scenery just went on the plywood. Simple, and looked great without spending loads of money.

Very much agree with this.  Also very quiet operation using “flex bed” & Atlas track!!  

@Hot Water posted:

We didn't put ANYTHING on top of the plywood. We used VinylBed "flexxbed", under the track (3/8"  for the main lines and 1/4" for sidings & yard tracks). The scenery just went on the plywood. Simple, and looked great without spending loads of money.

Yes, similar - just cut out roadbed with beveled sides from Homasote using the bandsaw (low dust!), glued and screwed that to the plywood, backed out the screws the next day.  Track on the Homasote roadbed and scenery built up directly on the plywood.

Additional thought: 30+ years ago there were only 3 choices for roadbed in O: cork, Homabed, & vinyl. I did what most companies (ie. real railroads) do and  looked at cost per foot. Homabed was lowest. Homabed has since been sold twice to west coast companies and relocated from here in the northeast. Shipping makes the product (even if still available) cost prohibitive for most of us.

Add Reply

The Track Planning and Layout Design Forum is sponsored by

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.